The search for a group of militants continued today in the dense forest of Chambi Mountain near the Algerian border. Land mine clearance operations are also underway.
Nine members of Tunisian security forces have recently been injured in land mine explosions while pursuing the suspects in Kasserine Governorate.
Mine clearance using advanced equipment started yesterday at noon, reported Tunisian state news agency TAP.
These operations may take a long time due to the complexity of the terrain, which stretches over an area of 100 square kilometers, 70 square kilometers of which is composed of forest, Ministry of Interior spokesman Mokhtar Ben Nasr told TAP.
The suspects come from Tunisia and Algeria and the group in Chambi Mountain has no more than 15 members, Minister of Interior Lofti Ben Jeddou told Mosaique FM yesterday. He said there is another group of around 11 suspects hiding in the nearby area of Bou Chebka Mountain.
There were no reported exchanges of gunfire during the search operations. Ben Jeddou denied rumors that he gave orders not to fire on the militant groups, and said he considered such claims an attempt to create social disorder.
“We have the competence to be able to eradicate the terrorists,” Ben Jeddou told Mosaique FM. “This is sedition. This is sedition. I do not believe that the army and national guard forces have gone to the summit of the mountain just to play with the terrorists. This a dirty joke that must not be repeated.”
According to TAP, four of the injured security forces were transferred to Tunis for continued care.
Families of the injured criticized the government, saying there was a delay in assisting the wounded after the explosions.
When Prime Minister Ali Laraayedh visited the injured forces in the Military Hospital in Tunis yesterday, he was criticized by the officers’ families for not providing proper security and equipment for the dangerous work.
Laraayedh denied these charges and said the Ministry of Interior is working to enhance the quality of its equipment.